Jr. Featherweight Gamal Yafai scored a hard-fought twelve round unanimous decision over Luca Rigoldi to win the European Jr. Featherweight championship on Thursday night (December 17th) at the Allianz Cloud in Milan, Italy. What was a competitive bout from the opening bell, both fighters were able to have success in spots and neither fighter appeared to be able to stand out clearly from each other for a significant portion of the fight. Yafai had an edge in terms of punching power, but the champion Rigoldi seemed to get the better of the action due to his overall offensive output. A highlight of Yafai’s offense was clearly the body work he was able to execute throughout in landing hard hooks to the body as well as mixing in hooks and uppercuts to the head.
As the fight progressed, the ebb and flow turned in Yafai’s favor as he seemed to make a slight adjustment to his strategy by using more lateral movement, which made Rigoldi miss with some of his offense and also seemed to reverse roles in that it was him that had the higher work rate in the latter rounds. It was this change in tactics as well as landing the harder punches of the two that ultimately allowed Yafai to earn the unanimous decision victory. Official scores were 119-109, and 116-112 (On two scorecards) for Gamal Yafai. Gamal Yafai advances to 18-1, with 10 Knockouts. Luca Rigoldi falls to 22-2-2, with 8 Knockouts.
Also on this card:
Women’s IBF Jr. Lightweight world champion Maiva Hamadouche scored a dominant eighth round stoppage over a very “Game “, but over matched Nina Pavlovic. Although Pavlovic seemed to be getting the better of the action in round one, from the second round on, the champion administered a beating on the challenger highlighted by a constant body attack. It was a left hook to the body that dropped Pavlovic in the second round. The challenger showed tremendous heart and continued to fight on, despite being consistently pushed back and sustaining significant punishment throughout. Pavlovic was dropped for a second time in the middle rounds with another left hook to the body. The one-sided bout was finally halted in round eight when the challenger spit her mouthpiece out and then appeared to get sick in her corner prompting what frankly was an overdue stoppage. Official time of the stoppage was 1:34 of round eight. Maiva Hamadouche advances to 22-1, with 18 Knockouts. Nina Pavlovic falls to 6-4-1, with 1 Knockout.
Jr. Welterweight Devis Boschiero scored a ten round split decision over late substitute Samuel Gonzalez. Gonzalez seemed to have an edge in the early rounds due to his greater activity and elusiveness, but as the fight progressed, Boschiero was able to step up his activity, but neither fighter seemed to stand out clearly from the other in what was at times a messy and ugly fight to watch. All three judges turned in identical scores of 96-94, with two of those judges scoring in favor of Boschiero. Devis Boschiero advances to 49-6-2, 22 Knockouts. Samuel Gonzalez 22-7, 13 Knockouts.
In a non-title Lightweight bout, current European Lightweight champion Sandor Martin scored a workmanlike eight round decision over nineteen year old veteran Nestor Maradiaga. What was a formulaic bout Martin forced the action and outworked the “Game” youngster over the course of eight rounds to earn the decision victory. Sandor Martin advances to 37-2, with 13 Knockouts. Nestor Maradiaga falls to 8-10-1, with 4 Knockouts.
Unbeaten Jr. Middleweight prospect Mirko Natalizi began the evening by scoring a third round stoppage over veteran Manuel Largacha. After a brief period where it appeared Natalizi was taking his time as opposed to really forcing the action, Natalizi began to let his hands go in round two and appeared to score a knockdown of Largacha with a combination to the head late in the round, but it was ruled a slip. At this point in the fight, Largacha did not have an answer for Natalizi’s hand speed and his lack of head movement allowed Natalizito bring an end to the fight in round three by connecting with a right hand to head that set off a barrage of unanswered punches and forced a stoppage of the bout. Official time of the stoppage was 2:58 of round three. Mirko Natalizi advances to 9-0, with 6 Knockouts. Manuel Largacha falls to 9-10-6, with 4 Knockouts.
This card was the final card of 2020 promoted by Matchroom Boxing’s Italian promotional branch and OPI Since 82. Prior to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing was in the midst of expanding his successful promotional company into various branches across the globe. Among those branches established by the England-based promoter has been in the United States as well as in Italy with the help of Italian-based promoter Salvatore Chechi of OPI Since 82. What has been a successful global expansion for Matchroom Boxing was of course impacted throughout 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
With Boxing events having resumed in many places around the world with either no spectators or spectators being allowed in limited capacities, one can only hope with things now resumed in Italy that Matchroom’s Italian promotional branch will be able to continue building on the momentum they were able to establish in the pre-COVID19 period. Along with digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN, promoters like Eddie Hearn have been able to take advantage of the opportunities the digital streaming model offers not just Boxing, but all of sports. As DAZN continues its global expansion, what this also means for Boxing is an increased opportunity to not only open the sport to new eyes, but also with the expanded access will also open up opportunities for fighters across the world to be able to gain exposure on a true global stage. Something that will only continue to benefit Boxing going forward and should be something all who love Boxing should support.
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